Noah's Ark

We all know the story of Noah's Ark: God told Noah to build a wooden ark so that he, his family and two of each animal could be saved from the flood. Few today think the story is literally true, most consider it to be a metaphor and a myth. Could it actually be a bit of both - a metaphor with a kernel of truth?

The Flood

The main reason for thinking that the story of the Ark might be based in reality is the possibility that a flood really did take place. Christianity is not alone in this belief - many creation myths include a huge flood. In particular the Biblical story seems to be related to the Mesopotamian flood tales.

Other traditions which refer to a flood include the Indian Vedas. In Vedic literature, the sole survivor of the great flood was Manu, also known as the first king. In Greek myth Deucalion was warned of the forthcoming flood by his father Prometheus.

Of course we must be careful of the possibility that other cultures have had their mythology tainted and/or reinterpreted in the light of Christianity. However with a large body of similar stories found in cultures around the globe we must at least consider the possibility that some large scale flood did in fact take place.

Was The Ark Real?

So, if there was a flood - and it's still a big if - was there really an Ark? And if there was, does any evidence of it still remain? And if so, where is Noah's Ark?

Many researchers (arkeologists) have searched for the remains of the Ark over the years - indeed it has often been reported as having been located. Most of the searches have been concentrate in the area of Mount Ararat, Turkey. Dozens of expeditions have been mounted, satellite photographs examined, locals quizzed. Despite this there is still no conclusive evidence of the Ark.

But absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. The area is inhospitable and any remains are likely to be small and difficult to find after this long. So there will always be those who continue to search and hope.

If the remains of a boat of the right age are found, what does it mean? Some believers claim that it would be a vindication of the "literal truth" of the Bible and hence evidence for views such as creationism.

Others argue that even if the Ark is found it could simply confirm that many myths have their basis in fact - but are still myths. Perhaps there was once a large enough to appear to "cover the earth" but actually no more than a few hundred miles in diameter. If some of the victims did indeed survive such a flood in a large wooden boat - perhaps built as a result of geologic or meteorological early warnings - then this simple piece of history could have led to the Biblical myth of Noah.

If the Ark ever is found the discovery is likely to raise more questions than it answers.